Wednesday, April 23, 2014

the "Start the Car" quilt

applique quilt, c. 1860, found in Sellwood, 74" x 94"
Mom and I enjoy going to antique shops together, and there's always an amusing dialogue. She will say, "There's a lot of it!" and "Hard to believe someone bought it the first time." We always have a good time with antiques.

Yesterday, I learned a new expression from Madge Ziegler, who heard it from Karen Dever.

"Start the car!" 

Karen is a quiltmaker, collector and historian who lives in Moorestown, New Jersey, where my family lived for years. We met through mutual friends in the quilting community, and I have enjoyed our Moorestown connection. According to Madge, Karen's original version of this expression was "Harry, start the car!" I think Harry is her husband.

What a hoot! The reason for learning this wonderful expression yesterday was a quilt I found at an antique shop in the Sellwood district of Portland. Sellwood has some fun antique shops, although there are fewer shops than when I first visited the neighborhood 16 years ago. I get there a few times a year, and usually don't find much. The antiques shops in Portland are mostly vintage, and the selection of available quilts is usually pretty sad.

oh look, a quilted "fylfot"
Yesterday's outing was really just to get out of the house for a few hours. I thought I would look for items with sun motifs, since I am hoping to include something about the motif in my book. The sun is really the central motif in the New York Beauty design. Before I left the house, I found a neat little Civil War snuff box on eBay.

Civil War snuff box found on eBay
I never find quilts in Sellwood, and wasn't even looking for quilts. So, imagine my surprise when I spotted this stunning 1860s appliqué quilt. That's where the "Start the car!" expression comes in.

When I saw the price, I nearly fell over. It was a steal! Without going into too much detail about that, I can say I have spent a lot more money on dinner for two than the quilt. It was really hard to believe. I was flabbergasted!

Trying to contain my excitement, I looked around to make sure I wasn't on Candid Camera, tucked the quilt under my arm, and headed toward the register with a poker face. The clerks were nice to hold up the quilt so I could get a picture of it, but they really had no idea what a remarkable find it was.

I quickly paid and left, and dashed to the car as soon as I was out of view. It was raining, so hopefully I didn't look too out of place running with a package in my arms, but passers by must have wondered why I was beaming. If something like that ever happens to me again, it's good to know there's a suitable expression for it. Thank you, Karen and Madge! When Mom comes to visit this summer, she'll know exactly what I mean if we're looking at antiques and I say "Start the car, Mom!"

More info about the design: Sandra Starley shared a link to a wonderful blog by Barbara Brackman, where you may see several examples of the motif. Click here

Tuesday, April 22, 2014

I collect books...

after receiving the 1995 Uncoverings, there are only two editions missing
from my collection
I collect books, and guess what? I read them! Well, you didn't think I just looked at the pictures, did you? (L.O.L.)

The 1995 Uncoverings received yesterday from Audrey Waite is simply wonderful. I just read Merikay Waldvogel's remarkable paper about Mountain Mist. Pattern "X", the New York Beauty is still a bit of a mystery, but it was fascinating to read about Frederick J. Hooker, Margaret and Ruth Hayes, Phoebe Edwards, and the letters saved by Margaret Hayes.

bookshelves, around 2008
In the summer of 2008, my home was remodeled and the design for the great room included some book shelves. At the time, I did not know how I would fill those shelves. As it turned out, I should have built more shelves. Perhaps when the other half of the house is remodeled...

bookshelves, 2014
Those shelves are nearly full now, and what a joy it has been collecting all those books! Many of the books were written by people I have met. Many are personally signed. In 2008, those authors were just names. Now they are friends, acquaintances and colleagues. The top shelf on the left includes self-published books, magazines with articles about my collection, and books with quilts from my collection. I'm sure it will also be full soon.

I am still looking for the 1996 and 1999 editions of Uncoverings, by the way. If anyone out there has duplicate copies available, I would love to buy them.

Monday, April 21, 2014


Previously published information is always helpful, even if it does not reveal any new information. Publications have dates and show research progress at specific points in time. The April 1981 Quilter's Newsletter Magazine article, "The Great American Quilt Classics, New York Beauty" contained a lot of information that was later disproved. A 1995 Article by Barbara Brackman was much closer to today's research.

Mountain Mist New York Beauty, c. 1930
I received the January/February 1995 issue of Quilter's Newsletter Magazine today, and was very interested in Barbara's article, "New York Beauties, from the Rockies through Tennessee and Texas". It was illuminating, in more ways than one. The article showed exactly where quilt history research about the New York Beauty design was almost 20 years ago, and the research was much closer than it had been in 1981.

Today, I also received one of the few editions of "Uncoverings" I had been missing, the 1995 edition. Audrey Waite was very kind to offer it to me when she saw my post about collecting all the American Quilt Study Group research journals. The 1995 edition includes a paper about Mountain Mist by Merikay Waldvogel, whose research is impeccable. I'm looking forward to reading it.

Did you know I was an avid collector of periodicals, research materials and ephemera? Today I also received a 2006 booklet called "New York Beauty" by Cheryl Phillips and Karla Schulz, which included plexiglas templates. Very cool!

If you're reading this blog and know of any other periodicals that may support my research, I hope you'll let me know. I want to send a big thank you to all the people who already have directed me to good information. It improves the quality of my research, and will ultimately be reflected in my upcoming Quiltmania book about New York Beauty quilts. Thank you, thank you, thank you!

Wednesday, April 16, 2014

more pieces for that other collection

from "Precision Pieced Quilts Using the Foundation Method"
Last week, I blogged about my collection of ephemera and books, the support materials for all my research about the patchwork design most commonly known as New York Beauty. The post, called "...the collection people didn't know about..." can be found here.

Following that blog, I thought I would continue posting about new additions to this collection as they arrive, and talk a little about what these items mean.

After mentioning the 1992 American Quilter article by Jean Wells in my blog last week, my friend Madge Ziegler recalled another early source of information about foundation piecing using the New York Beauty design. It was a 1992 book called "Precision Pieced Quilts Using the Foundation Method" by Jane Hall and Dixie Haywood. My copy arrived today, and it supports idea that foundation piecing was being introduced to the New York Beauty design through the mass media around 1992.

The other piece was a magazine clipping with a quilt called "Diana's Rose"- a fairly recent variant of the designs with appliqué elements. According to the seller, the quilt design was to pay tribute to Princess Diana after she died- so the pattern is 1997 or later.

The name of the magazine and date are not included, so if anyone recognizes it, let me know. I have a small collection of similar clippings, and they relate to two of the antique quilts in my collection. What was once a rare variant may be seen more often from the current period in history, because it was reintroduced by several designers.